I was at an outdoor public range a couple weeks ago with a friend. It was a combination pistol and rifle range, and my friend and I were shooting a couple of my pistols. There was a lot of noise on the range, obviously, with about twenty people shooting their guns. But through all the normal gun shots, I heard something like you hear in an assassin movie. I looked to my left and saw a rifle with a suppressor, and I was so jealous! I would love to have a suppressor, but they are a little difficult to buy.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) categorizes silencers as a National Firearms Act (NFA) firearm. (Silencer is a common term for suppressors, and that is how the ATF refers to them, but I will always call them suppressors, because nothing can really “silence” a gun.) Other weapons categorized as NFA firearms include full-auto guns, short-barreled rifles and shotguns, “destructive devices” including Molotov cocktails and bazookas, and “any other weapon” which includes cane guns and gadget guns.
The process for buying a NFA firearm is pretty lengthy. When you’ve picked out your suppressor, you must fill out an application with the specific serial number for your suppressor. Before you send the application and $200 in taxes to the ATF, you must first have the “Law Enforcement Certification” completed by the chief law enforcement officer. Your gun dealer then holds on to the suppressor while your application is being processed, which could be up to six months! If your application is approved and when it’s sent back to you, then comes the happy day you get to go back to your gun shop and pick up your suppressor. You must do this with each NFA firearm you purchase. From then on out, any time you have the suppressor, you must have a copy of the ATF approval on your person. By the way, if you didn’t know already, I happen to live in Colorado, where suppressors are legal. If you live in state where they are illegal, then you are out of luck.
I don’t understand why suppressors are so restricted. I feel they should be as easy to purchase as any other gun. Suppressors actually make your gun safer. The most obvious way is that suppressors reduce the gun’s report (gunshot noise), which is safer for your hearing, with or without hearing protection. On the range this isn’t such a big deal, but if you’re protecting yourself in the middle of the night, are you really going to have time to put on your hearing protection? Probably not.
When you screw on a suppressor to the end of your barrel, you are adding weight on your gun. Extra weight is always a plus on a gun, and when it’s on the end of your barrel, it will reduce both recoil and muzzle climb, which will make you more accurate. In a home invasion scenario, you need to stop your target as soon as you can so you have less of a chance of you or others in your home getting hurt.
So yes, I really want a suppressor, but I am certainly not looking forward to the process to purchase one. The great part about being a gun-lover in Colorado is that if I want a gun, I go to my local gun shop (usually the Shootin’ Den in Colorado Springs), fill out the application, wait an hour or so, and then go home happy with my new gun. We don’t have a waiting period of several days or weeks. I don’t usually buy things online because I’m very much an instant-gratification kind of girl. So whenever I do go through the process of buying a suppressor, it will be so hard to wait!